Original Institute Creators and Organizers

The New Literacies Teacher Leader Institute (NLI) was created in 2009 by a group of literacy professors from four universities and initially launched at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University. The group of professors worked collaboratively to design the NLI professional development model, which is based on principles of project-based inquiry and new media literacies. Through a capacity building model, self-sustaining follow-up institutes have been launched in numerous states and Beijing, China. Over 400 teacher leaders have been trained to conduct professional development focusing on new media literacies at their home institutions.View previous Institutes here. The founding creators of the Institute are:

Dr. Donald Leu, University of Connecticut
Drs. Hiller A. Spires, John Lee, and Carl Young, North Carolina State University
Dr. Julie Coiro, University of Rhode Island
Dr. Jill Castek, University of California-Berekely



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Dr. Donald J. Leu will be a facilitator for the Online Reading Comprehension area of the Digging Deeper Breakouts. Don is the John and Maria Neag Endowed Chair in Literacy and Technology and holds a joint appointment in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. He directs the New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut and is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association and the Reading Hall of Fame. He is a past President of the National Reading Conference. A graduate of Michigan State, Harvard, and Berkeley, Don’s work focuses on the new skills and strategies required to read, write, and learn with Internet technologies and the best instructional practices that prepare students for these new literacies. He has more than 100 research publications and seventeen books on topics that range from phonics and phonemic awareness to teacher education and the new literacies of online reading comprehension.


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Dr. Hiller Spires, will be a facilitator for the Video/Multimedia for Analysis and Student-Generated Productions area of the Digging Deeper Breakouts. She has been on the NC State faculty since as a Professor of Literacy and Technology in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She received her Ph.D. in literacy education with a cognate in English from the University of South Carolina. Hiller served as the founding director of The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation from 2002-2006 and currently serves as FI Senior Research Fellow. Her research focuses on the effects of digital literacies on learning, including emerging literacies associated with gaming environments. She is co-PI on the NSF-funded projects, Crystal Island and Narrative Theatre. She has published in Journal of Educational Psychology, Cognition & Instruction, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Literacy Research & Instruction, Reading Psychology, among other journals. She coordinates the New Literacies & Global Learning graduate program and co-directs the Friday Institute’s New Literacies Collaborative.




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Dr. John K. Lee, will be a facilitator for the New Literacies and Social Networking area of the Digging Deeper Breakouts. He is associate professor of social studies and middle grades education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction North Carolina State University. He serves as the co-editor of the social studies section of Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education and is the K-12 editor for the Journal of the Association for History and Computing. For nine years he taught middle and high school social studies. His publications have appeared in Social Education, Social Studies International Forum, Theory and Research in Social Education, the Journal Computing and Teacher Education and The International Journal of Social Education among others. He conducts research on digital history and the development of pedagogical content knowledge.




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Dr. Carl Young will be a facilitator for the New Literacies and Social Networking session of the Digging Deeper Breakouts. Carl Young, a former middle and high school English language arts teacher, is associate professor of English language arts education in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. He teaches courses in English methods, teaching composition, and content area reading and writing. He conducts research on Web 2.0 and other technology applications in English education. Other research interests include content area reading and writing strategies, effective language instruction, teaching English in rural and inner-city schools, making the transition from preservice to inservice English teacher, responding effectively to student writing, and integrating critical literacy, technology, and inquiry-based learning applications into the English language arts classroom. Selected publications have appeared in English Education, English Journal, Journal of Literacy Research, and Reading Psychology. He also serves as the lead editor of the English language arts section of Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education.



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Dr. Julie Coiro will be a facilitator for the Online Reading Comprehension area of the Digging Deeper Breakouts. She began her teaching career as a special education teacher after graduating from the University of Connecticut. She received her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Reading from the University of New Orleans. Upon returning to Connecticut, Julie worked as a technology specialist at LEARN, a regional educational agency, before pursuing her doctorate in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Currently, Julie is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the University of Rhode Island. Among her research interests are strategic reading comprehension instruction, new literacies of the Internet, online reading comprehension, and effective practices for technology integration, assessment, and professional development. Selected publications have appeared in Reading Research Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, and Educational Leadership. Julie is also co-editor of The Handbook of Research on New Literacies (Erlbaum, 2008).



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Dr. Jill Castek will be a facilitator for the Online Reading Comprehension area of the Digging Deeper Breakouts. Jill is a trained reading specialist and curriculum leader with a decade of experience working with students in grades K-12. Her work examines the challenges and opportunities for reading, writing, and learning on the Internet. She is particularly interested in inquiry approaches across the curriculum and the instructional contexts that facilitate acquisition of the new literacies of online reading comprehension. Her classroom-based research integrates a wide-variety of strategies to support students in developing the skills and strategies needed to read, write, and collaborate on the Internet. Jill earned her Ph.D in 2008 at the University of Connecticut in the area of Cognition and Instruction. She currently holds a post-doc position with the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading project at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley.